BridgeIT project was created to address challenges of the learning gap between urban and rural areas. Non-accessibility of rich educational resources, limited access to information, and traditional teaching methods impede the learning outcomes of those living in rural areas. Computer-aided education remains a remote possibility, with the digital world far from their reach. Hence the project was envisioned to address these issues and level the playing field between rural and urban areas.
The focus of BridgeIT is to utilize technology to educate rural communities as well as provide a platform to develop ideas and skills that can help increase employability and ultimately, the standard of living. By digitizing rural India, BridgeIT aims to bridge access and competency gap between Dalits and other marginalized communities and mainstream society using digital tools. It acts as an enabler to remove illiteracy, to give children better education and create entrepreneurs, by providing them access to IT/Computers. It also facilitates adults to become knowledgeable, help children explore more in science and technology and aid entrepreneurs to progress economically with their control over technology.
CADAM started this project of digital literacy called BridgeIT in Feb 2014. It was started in 10 villages of Chirgaon block of Jhansi district of Uttar Pradesh as a pilot project with the following objectives:
- Provide supplementary academic inputs to primary and pre-middle school children (grade 1-5) through Pratham’s Computer Aided Learning (CAL) module.
- Facilitate digital literacy for middle school children (grade 6-8).
- Improve adult literacy in village communities through Computer Based Functional Literacy (CBFL) software.
- Groom young Dalit men and women to be successful entrepreneurs.
BridgeIT is a remarkable idea to show the utilization of IT as a key empowering in school education, adult literacy and the creation of entrepreneurs. The program is partitioned into basically three sections:
- CAL (Computer Aided Learning)
CAL is implemented in Govt. schools (Primary, Middle) in which the students get computer education at no cost. For this purpose, entrepreneurs get identified from the target areas. They then undergo training which increases their understanding and confidence in computers, teaching and entrepreneurship skills as well.
- CBFL (Computer Based Functional Literacy)
In this program, the trained entrepreneurs work with illiterate adults in the target areas and teach them with the help of laptops. This method is developed to teach people with computers and flashcards by the use of animated graphics patterns for visualization and audio appreciation.
- Building entrepreneurship skill among entrepreneurs in this part, the entrepreneurs go through a number of capacity building and soft skill training. Organizing soft skill and capacity building training on a monthly basis, PD (Personality Development) training/ seminars on a regular basis are some major inputs provided to the entrepreneurs. In the time span of 2 years, entrepreneurs are encouraged to develop a business model for their livelihood.
The program was quite successful in terms of the following:
- It has been observed that the overall school attendance increased considerably and students of primary and junior school developed a keen interest in learning with the software that is being used in the program.
- The IT literacy of the students has grown and they started using basic and some advanced features of the computer quite comfortably
- The adult literacy rate also increased and it has also been observed that the interest and awareness of adults towards literacy increased.
- At livelihood front, this project was also quite successful and the entrepreneurs have developed business model ad their monthly earning touches 5-50k per month.
- Because the entrepreneurs run their business in the community itself and almost all are providing IT enabled services, the overall IT awareness has also increased in target areas.
With the effective execution and incredible response from the entrepreneurs, students, and community the project has been extended in 7 states of India (Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Haryana). With the assistance of BridgeIT, CADAM has been influencing lives of in excess of 46000 primary and middle school students, in excess of 5546 adults, more than 150 Govt. Primary and Middle Schools and 190 entrepreneurs.